DENVER (CBS4) – Fear ruled Wall Street on Monday as investors ran from the markets, pushing the Dow below the 11,000 mark.

The stock sell-off began last week and Friday’s down grade of the American debt rating meant dramatic drops on Monday.

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The Dow lost 634 points or 5.5 percent to close at 10,809. It’s the first time it has fallen below 11,000 since November. The NASDAQ lost 174 points or almost 7 percent. And the S & P 500 dropped 80. That’s a loss of 6.7 percent.

President Obama pointed out the downgrade was based on the inability of Congress to reach a real agreement on dealing with the national debt, not the fear the country couldn’t pay its bills. He offered reassurance about the nation’s overall integrity.

Certainly the stock market Monday suggested some panic by investors. Homeowners and those looking to buy a house are calling their mortgage companies trying to lock in rates, fearful they may start heading upward.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac own or guarantee about half of all U.S. mortgages. Their downgrade is likely to result in higher interest rates on home mortgages.

“It just makes everything unpredictable,” Jon Schutz said.

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That’s why Schutz met with his mortgage broker to lock in a refinance rate immediately.

“I couldn’t even begin to say, ‘Are they going to go down? Are they going to go up?’ I don’t know,” Schutz said. “I just know 3 1/4 is a pretty good rate.”

Rates are good today, but there’s no predicting tomorrow; though the general consensus is that interest rates on everything from mortgages to credit cards to college loans may go up.

“Consumer rates for mortgages and car loans and home equity loans — those types of things should become more expensive. But right now there’s just a tremendous panic,” financial advisor Ben Gehde said.

Gehde and other experts suggest taking action rather than panicking. Lock in interest rates in the next few days and don’t carry a balance on a credit card. Gehde said now is the time to try to get a government-backed mortgage.

“Between home prices and interest rates, now’s the time,” he said.

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Schutz is thrilled the paperwork for his refinance was signed and being processed on Monday.